This is something I have been agonizing over the last few months, and which actually resulted in the loss of one of my jobs.
(A loss that turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it happens as it got me out of a situation where I was being used and manipulated by a person holding a position of trust.)
I’ve recently come to realize that there are two kinds of “transparency”.
Form one, can be defined thusly.
A state wherein the information is technically available but is inconvenient to acquire, or where the information will do the person no good because it is in a language or format that is difficult for a laymen to comprehend. Or it is lacking in context and can thus be misunderstood. On more than one occasion I have seen unfiltered data in the hands of people not trained to understand it be completely misunderstood.
This form of transparency is a great way to tell lies without outrightly stating a falsehood.
Form two, the rarer form, wherein information is simply easily accessible, easily understandable, and in context does not actually appear to exist. And possibly cannot actually exist. We are an aggressive, self-centered group of loosely civilized predators and we thus rely on something once known as civility to help us keep the peace, which is to say we rely on our ability to speak small lies with some impunity and to skirt the truth whenever possible in order to avoid conflicts.
In short, even the word “transparency” has become a weasel word with two VERY disparate meanings depending on who is uttering it.
But honest people, those who live lives within what is now probably, a vastly archaic moral code that went out around the time of King Arthur – try to keep the confabulations to a minimum at least within the circle of those they love and trust; or whom they rely upon for survival needs.
Some other people have discovered how very useful the veil of “transparency” actually is however. And these people are good people to avoid. They are the ones who think in parenthetical asides.
“I cannot come to work today. I am sick (and tired of your face.)”
“No, that dress does not make your butt look big. (Your fat lazy ass does that.)”
“That time is inconvenient for me (because we all know I am more important than you.)”
Or the way the media will use a fact or figure in such a way as to offer a certain specific emotion or psuedo-intellectual spin to something in order to grant it both urgency and validity.
Examples of this are two numerous to list here but you can find entire books on the topic if you desire or entire essays and blogposts that are better written than mine.
For me, as an autist and a social newb, it is really enough just to know that like a rattler’s rattle, such people do come with warnings.
- “to tell the truth”
- “to be perfectly honest/transparent/truthful/frank”
- “I am a very transparent person”
- “I totally believe in transparency”
are all phrases that show up in best-selling books by FBI agents and psychologists and can all be boiled down to,
“I am about to lie to you.”
You should also be wary of people who speak in jargon heavy sociolects or dialects…as anyone who has ever run afoul of a lawyer or a statistician knows.
So basically just because the person puts all of their information out there does not mean that all of that information is true. This is why there are (for now) people called “fact checkers”.
Of course social media makes all this work. I have used it’s weaknesses myself. Turn off the geo locator (as I have done) and you can be sitting in a hospital with one arm off and telling all your Facebook friends about your fantastic vacation in Hawaii. Or vis versa if you needed the sick days to go on vacation.
So who to trust…
Sadly, Claudius was right.
Trust no one. Not even me.
I try to be honest, say 97% of the time, but sometimes, I’m just “transparent”.
But DON’T take my word for it…
On disclosure and transparency – difference between form 1 and 2